The distraught family of a man who disappeared during a hike up Mount Nyangani last Saturday has denied receiving any demands for a payment of $21,000 from the local chief.
The search for 31 year old Zayd Dada entered its seventh day on Friday.
Dada was out hiking in the Mount Nyangani area last Saturday with his wife and another couple. When the others decided to turn back, Dada carried on up the notorious mountain on his own, and never returned.
The Herald newspaper on Friday quoted unnamed sources as claiming that the local Chief Saunyama, who has been part of the local efforts in trying to track Dada down, demanded cash from the family.
According to the report, the Chief allegedly wanted a down payment of US$1000 to allow the search to continue, as well as US$20,000 once Dada was found.
But the family has denied this is the case, saying the Chief has played an instrumental role in the ongoing search efforts. Dada's Aunt Shenhila Mohamed told SW Radio Africa that the family is "totally refuting all claims that the Chief has requested money."
"There was no request ever made for money. The Chief is actually cooperating with us and we don't know where the report came from. No one in the family has been approached for money and no one has paid any money to any of the traditional leaders," Mohamed said.
The search efforts were on Friday once again hampered by bad weather conditions, with thick mist and rain descending on the area.
The army, police, local traditional leaders, family members and people from the across the country have all joined the search, while online support for the ongoing operation has continued to grow.
A Facebook page titled 'Let's Find Zayd' has been joined by almost 8,000 people with people sharing messages of hope for the family. Others have pledged to assist with financial aid, have offered prayers, and others have pledged to help in the physical search.
Mohamed said the family has been overwhelmed by the support shown by people all over the world. She reiterated a previous appeal for more volunteers to help in the search operation, saying: "we really need more feet on the ground. It's a vast area and people are exhausted. So any more help would be very welcome."
"It's a hard time for the family, for Zayd's mom and wife in particular. But we are optimistic and we are holding on to the belief that we are going to find him. We're not going to rest until we bring him down from that mountain," Mohamed said.